Tomato branches will curl down if the plant is not getting enough water, sunlight or nutrients. If tomato plants are lacking in calcium or nitrogen the plant will not develop strong, green leaves and the stems can wilt. Tomato spotted wilt virus, tomato leaf curl virus and aphids can all cause tomato branches to bend.
This article will explore the top reasons why tomato branches curl down and some easy and natural solutions you can use at home.
9 Reasons why tomato branches curl down
Here are the top causes of curling tomato branches as well as easy solutions.
Tomato plants that are underwatered can quickly develop branches that bend and curl down. On a hot day if the soil is dry the leaves will curl down and the branches will follow.
To prevent this from happening water the tomatoes deeply the night before a hot day or in the morning, Keep the water off the leaves to avoid fungal growth and this will help to stop the leaves and branches from curling down.
Tomato plants that have started to curl down can be fixed by the next day if they are given the water they need. Most tomato plants will need water every second day in summer. Surround them with mulch to prevent the water from evaporating from the soil too quickly.
Overwatered tomato plants can curl their leaves and their branches downwards. Overwatering can also be paired with yellowing leaves as the nitrogen is washed out of the soil.
When the soil becomes too wet the roots will not be able to absorb the nutrients they need. Oxygen will be lost form the soil and they can develop fungal growth.
To avoid overwatering tomatoes, test the soil with your finger or a stick before adding more. If the soil is dry 1 inch below the surface water them deeply.
If the soil is still wet then wait another 12 hours and test it again. Water only once the soil has dried slightly.
3. Calcium deficiency
Calcium deficiency can cause tomato branches and leaves to curl down. Calcium is essential for the plant to support proper water movement in and out of the cells.
Calcium is also important to help to prevent blossom end rot. An annoying condition that leads causes the end of the tomato to rot before it ripens.
To avoid this problem adding calcium to the soil before planting can be a great idea. Add a sprinkle of lime around the area that you are planting your new tomato seedlings.
Dig it into the soil and it will slowly release to the plants as they grow.
I have also crushed egg shells to a fine powder and added it to the soil. This will add calcium when the soil microbes and worms move in a break it down.
4. Tomato spotted wilt virus
Tomato spotted wilt virus can cause the leaves and stems to bend down. You will also see small yellow or brown dots on the leaves. The disease is spread by a tiny insect called a thrip. These flying insects travel between plants spreading the virus.
While the virus can’t be treated you can prevent it by getting rid of the thrips that cause the problem. Spray tomato plants with neem oil which will kill the insects on contact but will not hurt beneficial insects nearby.
Spray the plant again if the thrips are still visible.
5. Tomato leaf curl virus
Tomato leaf curl virus can cause the whole leaf of your tomato plant to curl down or up. This disease is spread by white flies that travel between plants. The leaves can turn yellow and the whole plant growth, flower and fruit growth will be stunted.
Treat the white flies with neem oil. Neem oil concentrate can be mixed with water and sprayed on the plants in the morning. Do this before the sun gets hot to avoid burning the leaves.
Aphids are a sap sucking insect that sits along the tomato leaf veins and stems and can cause them to curl. They drain the plant of its nutrients and can eventually kill the plant. The growth will be slowed and the leaves can start to turn yellow.
To treat a small number of aphids allow lady bugs to move in and eat them. Once the number is more than 10-20 spray the plant with neem oil and treat the rest.
7. Lack of sunlight
Tomatoes grow best in full sun. This will help them to develop strong stems and to develop large and sweet fruit. Move potted tomatoes out into the direct sun and put your tomato patch in a position that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight.
8. Hot winds
Hot winds can quickly cause tomato plant leaves and stems to wilt and curl downwards. Warm winds will strip moisture from the plant causing it to stress and curl.
To prevent this from happening water the plant deeply the night before winds are predicted. You can also water them int eh morning before a windy day.
Use a heavy mulch if you live in a windy area to avoid it blowing away. Bark chips are a great option. They can also be laid on top of a layer of straw mulch to make it extra thick.
9. Lack of nitrogen
Tomato plants that are lacking in nitrogen can develop weak leaves that turn yellow and curl downwards. As this problem continues the yellowing can spread down the stems of the leaves and the plant will slow its growth.
Nitrogen is needed for the leaves to develop chlorophyll which gives them their deep green color. Chlorophyll is used by the plant to turn sunlight into energy and to strengthen the structures of the plant.
To prevent a lack of nitrogen in the soil mix through pelleted chicken manure before planting your seedlings. Once tomatoes are planted give them another handful of chicken manure 4 weeks later and water it in well.
If your soil is poor mix through compost and aged cow manure 4 weeks before planting tomatoes. This will add gentle amounts of nitrogen to the soil to help to feed the plants, aid in drainage and allow the plant to access the nutrients it needs.
Tomato Branches Curling Down | Summary
Tomato branches can curl down if the plants are under stress. This can be temporary like a short term lack of water or it can be more permanent like tomato spotted wilt virus. Work out the cause of the problem and address it quickly.
Environmental causes like hot winds, lack of sun and inadequate water can all be fixed fast and your plant can be saved.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.